Feature

Haley Barbour's slavery remarks: Do they 'matter for diddly'?

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour argues the Confederate History Month flap is overblown, because it goes without saying that slavery was bad. Is he right?

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour says anybody angry over Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's proclamation in honor of Confederate History Month is making "a big deal out of something that doesn't amount to diddly." McDonnell, a Republican, has apologized for failing to mention slavery in his original proclamation, and added a paragraph saying the "abomination of slavery" led to the Civil War. But Barbour, also a Republican, told CNN on Sunday that there was no need to mention slavery, because everyone knows it was "a bad thing." Does Barbour have a point, or is he just making the situation worse for McDonnell? (Watch Haley Barbour's comments)

Barbour isn't doing McDonnell any favors: Bob McDonnell just wants this issue to fade away, says Rosalind Helderman in The Washington Post, and his friend Haley Barbour didn't help by rekindling the controversy. Barbour's main point was that this isn't a partisan issue in the South, because Mississippi's Democratic legislature has issued proclamations similar to McDonnell's for years. But this is a gift to the Democratic National Committee, which is demanding that the GOP condemn Barbour's remarks.
"Mississippi Gov. Barbour defends McDonnell's Confederate proclamation"

Conservatives are the ones who should be angry: "Just as when liberals overplay the race card it hurts liberalism," says David Paul Kuhn in RealClearPolitics, "conservative Southerners who ignore or downplay racial sensitivities sully conservatism." Republicans routinely face "unsubstantiated charges of racism," and their opposition to President Obama, the first black president, is often unfairly blamed on race. Dismissing the significance of slavery only makes matters worse.
"On McDonnell's Confederate mistake"

It's unfair to use this flap to attack conservatives: "Confederate sympathizers are part of the 'right,'" says Frances Martel in Mediaite, but it's not fair to use nostalgia for the Old South to bludgeon all conservatives. It's fine to criticize people who want to celebrate Confederate history without mentioning slavery, but it's extremely unfair to link all conservatives to the "Confederate loyalists or KKK members" on the right's fringe.
"Meacham: Confederate History Month is the 'Right's' answer to Obama"

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